Author : Decater Collins
Two years ago, they wouldn’t have been able to afford such a house. Debra didn’t like thinking about before.
“We can afford it now. That’s all that should matter.”
“You’re not worried about it being too remote?”
“Look at this bay window.”
The house was lovely. A dream home, the brochure said. Get it while it’s still here.
“Okay, we’ll buy it.” Stephen reached for his checkbook then remembered no one took checks anymore. He grabbed his phone instead.
Debra huddled excitedly with the agent, forcing Stephen to wander his new house alone. He’d never owned anything so expensive before. But then again, money didn’t mean what it used to.
They agreed on minimal decoration. The fewer possessions the better, at this point. Stephen was reading a new bestseller on the Buddhist rejection of attachment. All Debra said she needed was a television.
“Does that mean you don’t need me?” They both laughed awkwardly.
“Stop teasing, silly.” But he noticed she didn’t contradict him.
Every week, Debra came home with a different car. She said her old ones kept slipping but Stephen wondered if that were true. He knew a thing or two about statistics and, though it was possible she was just incredibly unlucky with her car choices, the scientists kept saying that everything was random. Debra’s cars shouldn’t be more likely to slip than anyone else’s. If anything, these days it seemed there were more cars than people. He wished she’d pick a car and keep it. At least for a month. Some consistency would help him pretend that everything was normal.
Stephen brought home a dog from next door. “The neighbors slipped.”
“As long as you clean up all the poop,” was Debra’s only comment on the matter. She had never liked dogs, even before.
“Maybe I won’t have to if it just slips.” She gave him a look that said she didn’t appreciate the joke.
“Just make sure you clean it up, okay?”
They’d lived in the house about six months when the foundation slipped. Sometimes it was hard to know where the boundaries were. One page out of a book might slip, or an entire city block, like what had happened in Florida. At the office, he’d heard about a guy who’d lost just one eye, but otherwise was fine.
The house was no good without the foundation, so they picked up and moved next door. Except there was no bed, just a bunch of sofas. Debra and Checkers didn’t seem to mind.
“Why are you always so hung up on everything? At least we haven’t slipped.”
“Aren’t you scared?” He’d never asked her about it before. He wasn’t frightened of her answer so much as her asking him in return.
“A little. What if it hurts? What if only a part of me slips? What’s it going to be like on the other side?”
“The scientists still don’t know if there is another side.”
“I read they are sure. They just don’t know if we’ll survive the slip or not.”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”
“Are you scared?”
“I’m scared I’m going to be the last one to slip. I don’t think I could stand being here alone.”
The next day, Debra didn’t come home. He tried calling her phone but the number was out of service. He knew she was probably just tired of being with him, the same way she got tired of a new car in less than a week, but it was easier to tell people that she’d slipped.
With Checkers around, he didn’t miss her so much.